Tips for Avoiding Plastic in the Kitchen

Not only is plastic detrimental to the environment, but it has some alarming health consequences as well.  Toxins from plastic containers and utensils can leach into the food that they come in contact with, especially if they are heated or used for hot foods.  It has been found that the majority of plastics release a chemical similar to estrogen which can disrupt normal hormone function.  There is now even research that shows that BPA-free plastics are no safer than any other plastics.   Fortunately there are plenty of plastic alternatives for the kitchen which are safer and better for the environment.

Utensils – Instead of plastic utensils, consider using wood or bamboo utensils.  Bamboo is a great material since it is completely biodegradable, stronger than wood, and stain resistant.  Stainless steel is another possible alternative.

Cutting boards – Plastic cutting boards can also be replaced with bamboo or wood cutting boards.  Again, bamboo is stronger than wood, doesn’t stain, and is much more eco-friendly.  Glass cutting boards are also safe, however they tend to cause knives to become dull more rapidly.

Food Storage – Glass, ceramic and stainless steel are the best ways to store food.  Mason jars work great, and they are inexpensive.  There is a wide variety of different shapes and sizes of glass food storage containers available.  Save glass jars from nut butters, jams, or other food products and repurpose those for food storage too.  Glass containers make great freezer storage as well.  Just remember to leave one or two inches of space for expansion.

Plastic baggies/plastic wrap – These can also be replaced with glass jars and containers or parchment paper.  A piece of fabric and a rubber band can also be used to cover food.

Cookware – Avoid all cookware labeled as non-stick.  The coating that makes the cookware non-stick contains carcinogenic chemicals.  Non-stick cookware heated to high temperatures releases a chemical that is known to cause death in pet birds and cause humans to develop flu like symptoms.  Replace non-stick cookware with cast iron or stainless steel.

Plastic Shopping Bags – Replace plastic shopping bags with eco-friendly reusable shopping bags.  Many bags are made from recycled materials, which is best for the environment.

Reusable Water Bottles – Plastic water bottles should be replaced with glass or stainless steel.  Avoid all plastic bottles, including those labeled BPA free.

Try to buy as many products packaged in glass instead of plastic whenever possible, or better yet make as much food from scratch as possible.  Farmers markets are a great way to buy foods with less packaging.

Considering that it can take up to 500 years for plastics to break down in a landfill, it’s best to try to recycle or find ways to repurpose your plastics whenever possible rather than throwing them away.  Check with your town to see which plastics can be recycled.  Get creative with the plastics that you are unable to recycle.  Plastic utensils can be used for gardening.  Old plastic containers can be used for craft projects, storing things like office supplies, or they can be used to organize closets.

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